TrailRider track brings heart of nature to all

HELPING HAND: The youngest TrailRider sherpa team, years 9 and 10 from Daylesford Secondary College. Picture: GENEVIEVE BARLOW

HELPING HAND: The youngest TrailRider sherpa team, years 9 and 10 from Daylesford Secondary College. Picture: GENEVIEVE BARLOW

WHEN first diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, David Stratton realised his hiking days were coming to an end. 

It was this connection with nature he mourned the most, so on his final mountain walk he soaked in the sight of wild flowers and an alpine meadow.

He knew it was for the last time. 

However only a few years later, he put his trust in a group of helpers and hiked up a rocky mountain in Vancouver on a 'TrailRider'. 

The TrailRider is a relatively new device allowing people to access the wilderness on a one-wheeled cross between a wheelbarrow and a stand chair.

Since that first trek, David and a group of Daylesford residents have developed the world's first signed TrailRider specific track.

The five-kilometre track runs through Cornish Hill and will allow people of all abilities to appreciate the local environment. 

The project, launched last Wednesday, was made possible through a collaboration between Daylesford Secondary College, Parks Victoria, Friends of Cornish Hill and Hepburn Health. 

It was three years in the making and at the opening, Mr Stratton's excitement was impossible to hide. 

"This is just the beginning," he said. 

"When you're in a wheelchair, you're kept away from nature and that is often really hard to deal with. 

"It was always such a part of my life, to bushwalk, and this TrailRider really is the key to going anywhere you like.

"Now we're seeing more and more towns want to get on board and offer similar tracks to this one." 

The actual trail development started as a novel idea in teacher Brendan Murray's geography class, where a group of students mapped out a path along Cornish Hill.

"From little things, big things grow", said Mr Murray, and within three years, the students had designed signs and a full route for the TrailRider. 

"Cornish Hill was once a wild, tangled place and it seems we have won against the war of weeds," he said.

"This really is the jewel in the Wombat Forest's crown and (this is great news) we have a TrailRider track so everyone can enjoy it."

Fiona Robson, of Hepburn Health's Rural Access branch, led a lot of the collaboration and said it was great to see communities working together to get things done. 

"We really just want everyone to know this is here and available for everyone's use," she said. 

Parks Victoria's John Kenright agreed people in wheelchairs were no longer limited to concrete roads.

"These TrailRiders can be daunting when you first see them, but anyone can use them and anyone can help out being a sherpa," he said. 

To try out the TrailRider, go to the Daylesford Information Centre. Hire is free. 

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